In one of my older posts “gr-if company update, January 2017” I mentioned creating contracts and sorting out all the legal stuff, it was probably the only piece of practical advice in the post for creative freelancers… or any self-employed person really.
“If you’re after something a little more practical; make a contract, t’s & c’s – all that legal stuff and something for your accounts. This way you’ll minimize the amount of times you’ll get shafted. However you’ve got to be shafted or fired at least once to be truly freelancing.
– Me…about three weeks or so ago, bold claim but there is truth to it. I can safely bet it’s happened to the main majority of self-employed people, that’s why taking care of this will add value for yourself and your clients.
So, I’ll finally follow that up with a little reflection of my experience and advice, little as it may be; I won’t claim to be lawyer.
As boring as it could be for someone who just wants to work on his or her trade, it’s unfortunately more important than you expect from both the client and contractors perspective, you’ll just have to bite the bullet. Here are some points to help you out and at the bottom I’ll attach the copy of what I use.
- Some Resources to get you going.
There is a lot out there to help you get started though, to which I shall link. There can be a lot of jargon but some good folk have tried to make it easier to understand.
- This is a good one to start with to help you understand the importance, what you essentially want to cover and why… And it’s a UK blog with a ton of other advice.
- From the blog of content writer John McGarvey. This is a good contract to look at before thinking of diving into chucking terms and clauses in there. In some cases all you need is something as simple as this. It could be useful to have a to-the-point contract for fast jobs and a more in-depth contract for any large projects.
- This one was a big resource, not as much as you would think for being specific to my industry. It has a ton of example contracts and agreements that can be easily edited for most industries.
- Know what you want.
For some this can be easily done for others hard, for me it was a mix; I had to value my time for anyone taking forever to make payment or wanting a ridiculous amount of alterations.
I had my fee’s but covering myself from anyone taking the mick is a bit different; alterations you shouldn’t charge more than you’re initial fee’s, I tend to stick x amount of free ones in there to begin with just cause it’s good business. But any more should be less than your fee if you’re expecting to take less time tweaking what you already created.
Late payments were different for me because there is no service involved to reference the fee from like an alteration. It was a case of finding a balance between something payable and serious enough to not be a joke. Try stages, like for example; £5 a day after 30 days past payment deadline, increasing to £10 – 15 days after… Then back that up in the terms.
I know it can sound shitty to add charges for being late to pay, in some cases people are happy to drag it out and avoid as much as possible so in hindsight shitty people cause shitty late payment terms. Don’t forget that some cases may have genuine excuses that can be settled reasonably, so some flexibility should be considered.
It all comes down to how you want to fairly cover yourself and your client.
- Seek further advice
It pays to seek advice from the people you know or to drop into your local solicitors to get your contracts checked … Pretty standard and you’ll want to make sure everything is correct.